Planet In Focus 2016: Our Review of ‘Cheshire, Ohio’

Planet In Focus 2016: Our Review of ‘Cheshire, Ohio’

Have you ever wondered where your electricity comes from?  Most of us turn lights on, use our appliances and even watch movies on our televisions and handheld devices without giving a second thought as to how our electricity is created.  Unfortunately the people of Cheshire, Ohio and have no such luxury.

Cheshire Ohio is a troubling documentary about the tiny town which sits in the shadow of American Electric Power’s massive coal fired Gavin Power Plant.  The plumes rising from the plant’s smoke stacks were initially concerning to the residents but when they found the town enveloped in a blue cloud of sulphurous smoke they became fearful for their health.  In response to these concerns, the company decided to buy the town, displacing all but the few who were either unwilling or unable to leave.  The film details this buyout as well as the subsequent lawsuits brought by those living beyond the city limits and therefore ineligible for compensation, as well as plant workers, many of whom developed pollution related cancers.

This is the kind of documentary that some may find dull.  The filmmakers observe from a distance, allowing the events to play out in front of the camera without much cinematic panache.  What makes it interesting is the real life drama of regular citizens trying to support their families and stay in their homes while fighting a company with very questionable ethics.  What makes it terrifying is learning the far reaching implications that pollution can have on our planet and our communities.  What makes it infuriating is seeing people who are forced to withstand a “sandstorm of chemicals” outside their front doors so that they and others like them can turn on their lights and watch their televisions.

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Galadriel fell in love with the movies when she was taken to see Superman at the age of three. Legend has it she watched the whole thing standing up with her jaw on the floor. She went on to see Superman four more times in the theatre and developed a lifelong passion for film. Galadriel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto which she parlayed into a ten year stint at Blockbuster Video and more recently a career in nursing. But some things never change – she still loves movies and counts Gone with the Wind, Amadeus, The Shawshank Redemption, La Dolce Vita and the films of Michelangelo Antonioni among her favourites. She is also obsessed with the Oscars and knows more about them than any one person should. Galadriel currently lives in Toronto with her husband and young daughter who is soon to see her very first movie in the theatre.